New chemical engineering faculty to explore sustainable fuels, depollution


By Gabrielle Stewart

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two new faculty members will join the Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering. Gina Noh and Ezra Clark will start in their new roles on Jan. 1, 2022.

Noh currently works as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich in Switzerland.

At Penn State, Noh will dedicate her research to investigating materials that can aid in the removal of pollutants from soil and water and developing catalysts for improving the sustainability of chemical processes. In her previous work, Noh synthesized and analyzed catalytic materials to comprehensively understand how chemical reactions occur on their surfaces. For example, she has worked with copper-based materials used in converting carbon dioxide to methanol, a renewable energy source that can also be produced with biomass and municipal waste.

“Penn State is a world-class research institute and premier public school with students from a variety of backgrounds,” Noh said. “The excellent facilities, from the Materials Research Institute to the Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building, the wonderful and brilliant people and the emphasis on catalysis and on interdisciplinary collaborations drew me here.”

Clark is currently a Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Technical University of Denmark.

Clark is interested in developing electrochemical processes enabling the synthesis of commodity chemicals and fuels from various sources, including carbon dioxide and water, to make such processes more sustainable. He also aims to better understand how the electronic properties of materials affect chemical reactions occurring on their surfaces and how these properties can be modified to improve the efficiency of electrochemical processes.

Clark, who has explored electrochemical methods of producing carbon-neutral fuels from carbon dioxide, has several goals for his new position.

“My primary goal is to motivate young students to make a positive impact in the world through technological innovation while simultaneously providing them with the education and training required to succeed,” Clark said. “My secondary goal is to develop a research program known for exploring new concepts with rigor and a meticulous attention to detail. Finally, I want to help establish Penn State as a leading institution in catalysis and surface science with a collegial team of faculty known for collaboration and cooperation.”


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